Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What Is Today's Democratic Party Offering The Working Class?


The GA-06 special election is June 20th-- three weeks from yesterday. And yesterday was the first day of early voting there. The ad up top was just put up on local TV to the tune of $500,000 by Pelosi's SuperPAC. Or more important, who is it speaking to? Who is it not saying a word to? Patrick Ruffini had an interesting post up yesterday at FiveThirtyEight: Black Voters Aren’t Turning Out For The Post-Obama Democratic Party. Before we get into his post, which has a lot to offer, let me over a simplistic short version: concerted, unconstitutional Republican efforts at voter suppression aimed at African-Americans has been working well. Ryan's SuperPAC and other shady GOP entities are outspending the Democrats massively, as they did in Montana. But with this kind of race, Democrats don't have to go toe-to-toe on spending, not if they have a superior ground game or field operation and can get out the vote.

And this:

Ruffini's post starts off with the reminder that GA-06 is "nearly 10 percentage points more Republican than the nation as a whole" but that Democrats have something else to worry about June 20-- turnout trends.
In 2016, turnout among whites was up across the country, and in highly educated areas like the 6th District in the suburbs of Atlanta. This redounded to Democrats’ advantage. At the same time, black turnout was down precipitously, from 66 percent in 2012 to 59 percent in 2016. This black-white turnout gap continued in the first round of Georgia’s special election, where the Democrats got impressive turnout levels from all races and ethnicities-- except African-Americans.

Lower black turnout in 2016 might be explained as a reversion to the mean after that group’s historic turnout for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. It’s possible that Clinton could never inspire black turnout the way the first African-American president could. But even if this shift is more of a return to the old status quo, Democrats will still have to grapple with these turnout levels going forward, and there are powerful lessons we can learn from the party’s failure to raise or maintain previous black turnout levels in 2016. Painting Trump as a bigot did not motivate more African-Americans to vote, in 2016 or in the Georgia 6th. Hope and shared identity seem to be much more effective turnout motivators than fear.

Elections are decided by two chief factors: Who turns out and which candidate they vote for. It’s been pointed out that turnout alone did not decide the 2016 election-- and that the key factor in Trump’s success with groups like the white working class was not that he got way more of them to the polls than Mitt Romney did, but simply that he won a much higher share of their votes.

But if there was one area where Democratic turnout was undeniably weaker in 2016 than 2012, it was among African-Americans-- and this is borne out in my own analysis of the 2016 voter files, which consisted of comparing actual 2016 turnout to pre-election modeled turnout expectations. While most of the conversation around electoral demographics has focused on the growing Latino population, African-Americans are still the most electorally influential nonwhite group because they make up a larger share of the voting population both in the U.S. overall and in swing states in particular. And for Democrats, the influence of black voters is further amplified because, as a group, they vote for Democratic candidates by such large margins. Clinton won about 66 percent of Latino voters, compared to Trump’s 28 percent; she won African-American voters 89 percent to 8 percent. Turnout among Latino voters is rising, and this is good news for Democrats, especially as African-American turnout has fallen. But the difference in the margins by which these two groups lean Democratic means Democrats need to work twice as hard to net the same number of votes from the Latino community as they could from the African-American community.

We saw last year how lower engagement among African-American voters is a serious problem for the Democrats, as black turnout declined nearly uniformly across all the swing states in 2016:

Turnout did not decline equally among all parts of the African-American electorate. The dropoff was particularly steep among men, and especially young men. Across the swing states for which we have voter files, turnout among black men aged 18-29 was 22 percent lower than 2012 levels, while it rose 7 percent among white men in the same age group. Age aside, we also see steeper differences in turnout rates along gender lines among African-Americans than any other racial group.

The post-Obama Democratic Party may be less able to count on black voters turning out at Obama-era levels, forcing it to become more reliant on whites with a college degree, Hispanics and Asians.

Indeed, on April 18th in Georgia, black voters did not necessarily join their white counterparts in a surge of Democratic enthusiasm against Trump. Compared to turnout levels in the 2014 midterms-- which, like this special election, was an off-year election where Democratic enthusiasm was low and Obama was not on the ballot-- black Democratic turnout in Georgia’s 6th lagged around 10 points behind that of white Democrats, though black voters still turned out at a higher rate than Republicans as a whole did.

As in 2016, the Democratic coalition in the Georgia special election relied somewhat less on African-American votes, gaining numbers instead through higher-than-expected turnout from the district’s fast-growing Hispanic and Asian populations. Nonwhite voters make up a smaller share of the 6th District’s electorate than Georgia’s as a whole, but the trends shown below are consistent with ones we saw in many states in a post-2016 review of voter turnout.

Democrats may partially solve their midterm turnout problem before they repair the cracks in their Electoral College strategy. In 2018, Democrats may be able to win over and turn out the kinds of white voters who showed up for them in Georgia’s 6th-- educated, left-leaning, but usually unlikely to vote in midterms-- even as “the resistance” fails to appeal to the African-American community that has been a major element of Democrats’ traditional base. But that strategy is more limited in 2020, when marginal voters are concentrated in African-American and other nonwhite communities, and no candidate has shown an Obama-like ability to reach them.

You can't see the video of Grayson, just above, too often. He addressed a very basic problem of the Democratic Party brand and how careerists thinking more about their own career trajectories instead of the people they're supposed to be serving have strayed very far from the values and ideals of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. Rahm Emanuel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Pelosi, Hoyer, Crowley and the rest of the losers can take their asinine identity politics with them when they exit. Jeff Stein had an important post at Vox Monday morning, Tired of losing the Rust Belt, new Democratic group has strategy to un-Pelosi the party. We'll see what Krystal Ball's new PAC-- the People's House Project-- turns into, but she says the aim is "to give progressive candidates in the Midwest and Appalachia a new form of support that isn’t dependent on the Democratic Party's coastal financial elite." OK, sounds good; they went public yesterday. Stein points out that the GOP has been successfully running attack ads tying Democratic candidates to the party’s coastal and culturally elites.
Ball and the House Democrats behind the People’s House Project say they’re determined to shake that image. They’ll try to fundraise for the PAC’s candidates, recruit candidates that fit the bill, and give them a slogan to use to try to distinguish themselves from the national party. “It will allow them to say, ‘I’m a different kind of Democrat,’” said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), one of the House Democrats backing the project, in an interview. “It’s hard to convince people around here sometimes how toxic our brand is. But, clearly the brand is damaged, and we need to see if something else can work.”

So far, three House Democrats from the two regions targeted by the PAC-- Ryan, Michigan’s Dan Kildee, and Kentucky’s John Yarmuth-- are supporting the People’s House Project.

The two House Democrats interviewed for this story emphasized that they view the project as complementary, rather than in conflict with, the existing Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Similarly, they stressed that they don’t intend for the new organization to serve as a rebuke to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. (Ryan ran against Pelosi for minority leader in December 2016 and lost.) “This has to be a movement with a lot of hands rolling in the same direction,” Kildee said in an interview.

But Ball was more willing to directly attack the Democratic Party’s leadership in the House-- and cast the new effort as an attempt to break with it. Some political analysts say Democratic candidates are weighed down by what the Cook Political Report calls the “Pelosi Factor.” In the home stretch of several House elections, including Thursday’s Montana race, Republicans have deployed images of Pelosi in attack ads to go after their Democratic opponents.

“She’s an impediment to every House Democrat in the country except for a few coastal enclaves,” Ball said in an interview. Candidates running under the People’s House Project will be able to say they’re of a different cast than Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Ball said.

“This gives us a chance to go straight into the heartland with an economic message,” said Kildee, who like Ryan stressed that he doesn’t view the effort as contradictory to Pelosi. “We have really not led with an economic message that transcends the whole spectrum of voters who would benefit from Democratic policies.”

Obviously Ball, Ryan, Kildee, Yarmuth and the rest working on this project aren't the first to understand the problems. Who knows, maybe it's time to stop obsessing about "the white working class" and just talked about "the working class."

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At 6:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harry Truman was right, and we're all paying the price:

"Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time"

At 6:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What? Nothing but lies. And the voters are starting to "get it".

With all due respect to the progressive-ish super pac, to get money to non-DxCC candidates, WTF are those people going to do if they get elected and are smothered by the democrap power strictures into oppressed irrelevance? You can be "for" things, but if you party is against them, you can't do shit.

Voters also tend to understand that.

And shame on black voters. It would appear that they vote based only on skin tone. Obamanation had the right melanin content but all the wrong policies. Yet they turned out for him. not so much after for the white liar neocon neolib corrupt corporate whores.

At 12:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Black voter turnout dropped most among males, especially young ones?

Well the ones that have survived being gunned down in the streets are the prime targets of Crosscheck and other GOP voter-suppression campaigns.

This AFTER being designated "super predators" by HRC who suggested they needed to be "brought to heel." No wonder her only credible campaign comments were those promising to "work with Republicans."

But don't worry, blame Russia!!!

John Puma

At 3:04 AM, Blogger Procopius said...

"Who knows, maybe it's time to stop obsessing about "the white working class" and just talked about "the working class." Yes. The other day I was reading a comment, looked like it might have been from a Trump fan or a Hill bot, I couldn't tell which, but it claimed Bernie was desperate to get the "white working class" vote and ignoring blacks and Latinos. I'm not such a Bernie fan that I follow his speeches that closely, but I've had the impression he talks to "the working class," not, "the white working class." In fact, that sounds utterly un-Marxian. In the framework of Marxism, if I understand correctly which I probably don't, the classes develop based on the kind of work they do, not the money they are paid for it. I suspect the attempt to break the working class into different parts based on skin color and ethnicity is a Republican strategy intended to weaken class solidarity, and it's been enthusiastically adopted by the Democratic Party Establishment as a cheap way to target particular markets. If you think that's a good electoral strategy, be my guest, but don't, then, come whining that black voters aren't turning out for you.

At 7:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bernie had problems courting the black demo. He needed their support, but the black demo had a problem with him -- anti-Semitism. Plus, Bernie WAS kind of the whitest-looking D candidate maybe ever.

Plus, and this cannot be understated, black voters are morons. They supported $hillbillary delusionally. Slick willie was touted as "the first black prez", irrationally so. Nobody since the kkk of the '50s had done more to oppress the working class than the neoliberal econ of Clinton and rubin. But the black demo stuck with him and still do. Fucking imbeciles, all of them.

Bernie did have some prominent blacks on his side. Most of them were of the intellectual elite types who most blacks only barely tolerate. I can't think of a single rapper who was for Bernie. If Jay Z had been for Bernie, maybe things would have been different.

This illustrates all you need know about the black demo.

At 5:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What Is Today's Democratic Party Offering The Working Class?"

A fresh batch of betrayal and being more Republican than the GOP.


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